The Teaching Opportunity of a Lifetime

General Information

Dr. Adam Rengstorf teaching gravity
Dr. Adam Rengstorf teaching gravity

No ordinary summer job … the Summer Science Program is a unique and unusually rewarding opportunity to teach and mentor some of the most promising young scientists in the world. SSP seeks faculty to lead research teams of extraordinarily gifted high school students (rising seniors) in near-earth asteroid imaging and orbit determination.

Since 1959, many alumni have cited SSP as a turning point in their lives, and have gone on to selective universities and prominent careers in STEM fields and other professions.

Dr. Douglas Duncan, Univ. of Colorado
Dr. Douglas Duncan, Univ. of Colorado

Over a hundred professional astronomers and physicists have been associated with SSP as a student, faculty, or both, including George Abell (UCLA), Edward Bertschinger (MIT), Nicholas Suntzeff (Texas A&M), Jerry Nelson (UC Santa Cruz), Douglas Richstone (Michigan), Thomas Steiman-Cameron (Indiana Univ.), Alma Zook (Pomona College), Elizabeth Simmons (Michigan State Univ.), and many more.

“Nothing else I’ve done is as rewarding as teaching at SSP.” –Dr. Douglas Duncan, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder

On each of two campuses – Univ. of Colorado Boulder and New Mexico Tech in Socorro – two faculty teach the physics, vector calculus, and observational astronomy required to perform near-earth asteroid orbit determination from first principles. The pace is faster than most college courses. Four Teaching Assistant and Residential Mentors tutor, mentor, and supervise students outside of the classroom. A Site Director handles residential and administrative matters.

UCLA astronomer George Abell served as SSP Academic Director for 12 years. The "Abell Clusters" of galaxies he discovered are the largest known structures in the universe. Photo by Ken Nordhauser '76.
UCLA astronomer George Abell served as SSP Academic Director for 12 years. The “Abell Clusters” of galaxies he discovered are the largest known structures in the universe. Photo by Ken Nordhauser ’76.

All faculty receive salary, housing, meals, and travel reimbursement.

The Summer Science Program is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse faculty and encourage all qualified individuals to apply. (Non-US citizens must have legal permission to work in the US; we cannot sponsor employment visas.) All positions are open until filled.

SSP is an immersion experience and a community. Faculty live on campus (almost) continuously for 44 days and 43 nights.

  • Socorro, NM: Tuesday June 13 through Thursday, July 27, 2016
  • Boulder, CO: Tuesday June 20 through Thursday, Aug. 3, 2016

Academic Director / Associate Academic Director

Dr. Fallscheer
Dr. Cassandra Fallscheer at the observatory in Boulder

The curriculum includes lectures in celestial mechanics, vector calculus, observational astronomy, introductory programming in Python, and other subjects according to faculty interest and time available. Lecture outlines and other resources are provided for core material. The Academic Director and Associate Academic Director at each campus divide this courseload according to respective interests. Together they give students sufficient background to perform an asteroid orbit determination using their own observations, measurements, and software. During the spring, faculty participate in hiring TAs and attend a weekend planning meeting.

Candidates should be experienced and enthusiastic teachers at the college level. A PhD in a physical science is preferred, as is experience with observational astronomy.

Teaching Assistant and Residential Mentor

TA with students
TA Ioana Plesca helps students in the computer lab

Our TAs are tutors and academic instructors, assisting students in using equipment and software, and with homework, under the direction of the Academic Director. Just as important is their simultaneous role as residential advisors and personal mentors, supervising students in the dorm and organizing recreational and social activities, under the direction of the Site Director.

brief video of two former TAs
in this brief video, two former TAs describe the job’s rewards

Applicants should be rising college seniors, graduating seniors, or graduate students, preferably majoring in a STEM field. For the potential 2017 launch of SSP in Biochemistry, wet lab experience is important.

TA Job Description

Site Director

The Site Director manages student residential life (behavior, health, housing and dining issues) and special event logistics (guest lectures, field trips, closing exercises), working closely with the academic faculty and host campus personnel. Candidates should have 5+ years of experience working with high school students. Some administrative experience is a plus. The position is ideal for a high school teacher seeking a change of pace and a chance to work with bright and motivated young scientists.

Inquiries – Applications

Faculty Application Form
Send completed application and resume by email or mail to:
Summer Science Program
108 Whiteberry Dr
Cary, NC 27519
voicemail (866) 728-0999